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What Type of Family History Do You Plan to Write?

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#21 [url]

Jan 22 13 5:31 PM

Last year I created one of my first “lists” on the State Library of Australia TROVE  website entitled Ebbott, John (Junior) bornCornwall, son of John Ebbott & Sarah Bone it now contains 250 items arising from Australian newspapers and other resources that I have linked in.

I have discovered all sorts of unknown things about my 3x great grandfather that I didn't know; cleared up old mysteries and discovered some new ones.  It has been a very rewarding process, I am very fortunate to have so much information but it has also been overwhelming.  However for the challenge I have decided using the resources that I have drawn together in my TROVE list as the basis of my writing.

My chosen narrative will be to write in blog form, and the focus will be John Ebbott and his family.

I haven't worked out the words per day yet but at least I have chosen a topic!  

A long way to go yet but at least I have a starting point.

Cheers Sandra

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#22 [url]

Jan 23 13 6:09 AM

Great Diane, that exactly what I would suggest. Don't make it a straight factual retell of the towns history but weave it into your ancestor's stories. Easy probably not, and probably won't happen beautifully on the first or even the second draft but as Deb suggests if you have your source material infront of you'll find opportunities to weave it in giving your ancestor's stories much more depth. 

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#23 [url]

Jan 23 13 6:13 AM

Natalie, I would think from your comment that you are creating what I refer to as a legacy book. A compilation of pictures, documents, along with your families stories and of course some of your own narrative. Don't worry about the order yet. Start with one family, one ancestor and build from there. You can rearrange all you want further down the road, don't feel the need to understand the order of your book just yet. As you finish each piece your vision for the book will take shape. And outline and a starting point is all you need at this point. 

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#24 [url]

Jan 23 13 6:19 AM

Congrats on figuring out your starting point. Since you're going to write in a blog format, think in terms of blog posts 500-800 words for your word count. Each day or every two days represents a blog post, by identifying each piece of writing as a post you can identify a beginning, middle and end for each post. 

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#25 [url]

Jan 23 13 9:26 PM

Congrats on figuring out your starting point. Since you're going to write in a blog format, think in terms of blog posts 500-800 words for your word count. Each day or every two days represents a blog post, by identifying each piece of writing as a post you can identify a beginning, middle and end for each post. 


Thanks for the word count and posting structure, Would it be better to think in individual short stories to make up the challenge so that it fits the blog structure or should they all be sequential, I am new to blogging and never quite know how a blog should knit together.

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#26 [url]

Jan 24 13 4:58 AM

To be honest it's your choice. You could write individual stories or you could write an ongoing story. If you write an ongoing story you should think of each post like a scene. While you want each scene to end leaving you to the next scene you also want each post to be able to stand alone with a beginning, middle and end. If you plan to turn your blog posts into a book at some point I would highly recommend this approach. It all would depend on what content your dealing with, a collection of short stories or 1all encompassing story.

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#27 [url]

Jan 24 13 6:58 AM

This challenge is a first for me. Every one seems to have a better handle of what they will write and have broken it down into managable parts. I have had in the back of my mind to write the family history for some time but didn't know where to start.  Since I have signed on for this challenge I have been thinking about writing a narrative about my great grandmothers' family.  This story is one that has captured my imagination since day one when I was 12 years old. (I use to write short stories about their lives when I was young, nothing based on fact.)  My G. Grandmother was one of 5 children who were orphaned and sent to several different homes during the 1890s.  While I know a little about all of the children, I know the most about my G. Grandmothers' eldest sister who became a dress designer (my mother received all her effects when she died.)  I have started by compiling a time line of events surrounding the family from 1878 (when their parents married) and ending with the oldest siblings death in 1964.  I have to admit that I do not know much about the parents, I have not even been able to find their death records anywhere but in the family bible.  I figure I can write down the stories surrounding this family along with the facts and hope that the story will unfold.    Since I am only commiting myself to 250 to 300 words a day, I may not complete too much of the story by the end of February but my plan is by Spring Break I can go on a research trip to Dallas, TX and find out "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey would say.  

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#28 [url]

Jan 24 13 8:43 AM

I'm at the very beginning of the process.  I have a tentative outline that will be the template for each family.  One of my biggest questions has been about the conditions in their part of Poland that prompted them to emigrate; so I've been poring over history books trying to get a feel for that.

My goal for the challenge is to make a start in one or two areas - I'll be beginning to flesh out my outline and start building a foundation for what I hope will be 2 legacy books; one for each of my parents' families.  I suspect that this project will take on a life of its own and lead me wherever it wants to go.

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#29 [url]

Jan 24 13 8:58 AM

Looking over these posts makes me want to read what you write! As for me, I have too many plans (as usual). 

  • I'm in the process of writing a memoir for a class I'm taking. I think that will be my February challenge since my deadline for the class is Feb. 28.  I've interviewed some of my children about their childhood (3 of 7 children yet to go) and I want to put their answers to my questions all together in some coherent fashion. 
  • I'm also working on my own autobiography, probably in memoir pieces. This week I'm taking some time off for a writing retreat with a writerly friend with this in mind.
  • And . . . I have a blog on writing family history that has suffered some neglect--my goal is twice a month. (Oh dear, I put that in print.)

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#30 [url]

Jan 24 13 5:44 PM

First post here! Like many people so far, I've got a few projects in my head, but the thought of how to actually start them seems overwhelming. My biggest project is to eventually do a legacy book - as Lynn describes it (I didn't really have a name for it until I read that above!) full of photos of people, places, gravestones, records, family trees and my narrative. Very ambitious for someone who's never done anything like it! I have done family photobooks and such, and I'm fairly proficient with Photoshop, so while I think I would be OK designing it, the writing it will be the tricky part for me.

So, I think to dip my feet in the water, and because I'm not brave enough yet to tackle the legacy book, I'd like to write a memoir of one of my grandfathers. I'm having trouble picking which one, though. I didn't know my maternal grandfather very well - he lived in a different country, so I only saw him every two years or so. I know a lot of "facts" about him - that he loved the composer Mahler, and that he hated garlic, for example, but I don't know that I have too many "stories" about him. My mother is going to come over and we're going to sort out a timeline of his life. But even she doesn't know much about his childhood - he never really talked about it. I know some things about how he met my grandmother from some dictations she did for me. I know a bit about his military record and his career. But is there enough to make it more than just a dry biography?

I have the opposite issue with my paternal grandfather. I have several hours of dictation from him and several pages of his own handwriting of childhood stories - he started to write his own family history 20 years ago - plus my own memory of him and my father's too. I think my challenge with him would be how to intertwine my writing with his own. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

I'm really looking forward to this.

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#31 [url]

Jan 24 13 7:39 PM

Last year I finished my second family history book. My first one was co-written with my sister and it was more about facts and some simple storyline to go with it.

My second one was a real challenge as I chose to write it as a novel. The information available made me think this was the only way I could really capture the times, the struggles and the people as they may have been.
Naturally it is my interpretation of the events, but it is all based on fact, newspapers, docs etc.
It was difficult at times and took me many years.
But I now have a book out there, self published, sold approx 150 books already and some amazing feedback.
I would do it again ... and have some ideas on other family lines to take on that challenge.


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#32 [url]

Jan 25 13 5:02 AM

@kadee, while you may not have all the pieces yet I think you are on your way to fleshing out a great story. If nothing more you can use these 28 days to develop a very solid outline, with ideas for chapters and scenes. Your word count may consist of nothing more than a description of a scene or a brief outline of a chapter but it all counts and it all brings you closer to a finished story. Stay the course, sounds to me like your on the right path. 

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#33 [url]

Jan 25 13 5:04 AM

Nice Mary. Interestingly enough my first book was a legacy book and included my Polish ancestors as well. I feel your pain in uncovering the living conditions and social history of the time. 

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#35 [url]

Jan 25 13 5:17 AM

Hi Nicola, I would certainly start with the grand-father that you have the most content for and the first thought that jumps into my mind is to write a collection of short stories. Each chapter could be a different story of your grandfather's told to you or injecting his own notes. Adding your own thoughts and life learnings. Just a thought, without knowing what the specific topics are that your grand-father wrote or talked about. You need to seek out a common theme amongst all the info you have on him, and shape the book around this theme. 

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#36 [url]

Jan 25 13 5:20 AM

Fantastic Margaret! Thanks for coming to the challenge. You will be a wealth of information for our members. I relate to your story, I started out with a legacy book for family and have now moved on to a novel based book. Several to be honest. And more legacy books waiting in the wings. I think many will relate to your story and looking forward to hearing more about your journey. 

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#37 [url]

Jan 25 13 8:36 AM

My Mother and father both wrote their autobiographies. They are wonderful. I want to take some of their experiences and create small little stories and adapt their experiences with additions of my own which will hopefully make them more  tempting to the younger generation and which will include some supporting information about the time period.

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#39 [url]

Jan 28 13 9:35 AM

I did so well (I think) on last year's challenge, and I've written a good amount since then.  One of the things that slows me down is the addition of new relatives with new research this past year.  They find me on my blog and Facebook.  I love it!  But it's hard to not keep adding new ancestors, especially ones you never thought you'd find.

I'd say I have 95% of the first draft, which I've actually edited two times, but I'm a little stuck right now because I don't think I've added enough "stories" to the litany of facts and documents.  I'm filling in some historic timeline events this week and thinking of maybe moving some chapters around and condensing a lot of the facts and putting them in story structure.

I started doing blog-to-book this past year too, which has really helped me move forward.

I never thought I'd get this far honestly, so I'm excited to wrap this up maybe this February.  Next year, I'd be back again though, because there's still my mother's side of the family!  I appreciate how much you've taught us, Lynn.  It's been an incredible ride.  Oh, and I will be posting about the challenge on my RhineGirl blog.  htp://  

Bettyann Schmidt rhinegirl.blogspot.cim

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#40 [url]

Jan 28 13 3:57 PM

Hello everyone. I'm new to the challenge and to writing family history but am going to use this to get started on writing up my research. I am not sure where that writing will take me so I have decided to focus on starting a blog and writing stories there. And to keep me motivated and the variety going, I have chosen a very loose structure. With a doff of the hat to another genealogy challenge, I will do an A-Z of my family history.
More here at my new blog. Looking forward to getting started on the 1st - but slightly terrified as well! 

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